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Vitamin D and atopy and asthma phenotypes in children

Hollams, Elysia M.

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: June 2012 - Volume 12 - Issue 3 - p 228–234
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e3283534a32
OUTCOME MEASURES: Edited by Henry Milgrom and Ralph Mösges

Purpose of review To give an overview of the recent research into whether a lack of vitamin D contributes to the development of atopy and asthma in childhood.

Recent findings I describe here the recent epidemiological studies relating vitamin D status to atopy and asthma in children, focusing on determinants of major asthma phenotypes in childhood. Recent findings include the observations that vitamin D levels are inversely associated with degree of corticosteroid use, worsening airflow limitation and increased exacerbations among asthmatics. Low vitamin D has been associated with atopy and asthma in children and adolescents in a community cohort, predominantly in boys, with vitamin D at age 6 predicting these outcomes at 14. I also detail the mechanistic studies examining relevant vitamin D-regulated processes; recent findings include the demonstration that offspring of mice with vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy show reduced lung volume and function.

Summary The current literature suggests that intervention to ensure adequate vitamin D levels during both pregnancy and childhood may reduce the development of atopy and asthma in children. However, important questions need to be answered regarding the levels of vitamin D required, which may vary between the sexes and between individuals, and the optimal timing and duration of such intervention.

Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Correspondence to Dr Elysia M. Hollams, PhD, Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, PO Box 855, West Perth, WA 6872, Australia. Tel: +618 9489 7841; fax: +618 9489 7700; e-mail:

Copyright © 2012 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.